January, 2015 Hello! My campaign for WI State Senator is over. On November 4, 2014 I lost to the incumbent, Senator Scott Fitzgerald. I wish him all the best in his 6th four-year term as our representative. During my campaign throughout the months of 2014 I learned that most people agree that we must get big money out of politics. Most agree that our schools are in need of and deserve much more adequate funding. Most agree that we must protect our clean air and water for generations to come. Hopefully our Senator will be able to serve the people of our district well as our representative in Madison. Hopefully he will do whatever he can to preserve and build what is good for our state. That said, I am glad I stood up for what I believe in and threw my hat into the ring. I met many new friends along the way and I saw new (to me) parts of the lovely state in which I live. I ventured out of my comfort zone to speak in many public venues. I learned alot about the election process. I learned even more about myself. I gained wisdom and confidence each day throughout the campaign. I am sincerely grateful to my family, my friends and to our countless volunteers for their hard work and dedication over the past year. We couldn’t have done nearly so well as we did without the group effort. Thank you, to you all!

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And so we begin a new chapter on the Zahn Farm. After ten years without cattle, Jim decided to buy a cow. He found a lovely Scottish Highland Cow with a three-month old bull calf for sale near enough to home to make the drive worth it. 

Meet Molly and Buster. They live in the horse shed with Whiskey, a chestnut mare, and George, our donkey. Everyone gets along quite well. As I write this letter it is -2° F out there, with a wind chill of -22 °F. Molly and Buster are out in the snow, lying down on the ground as they chew their cuds. Whiskey and George are indoors. They all have a choice as to where they want to be, sometimes all are inside, all are outside, but I have noticed that, during most days, the two cattle are quite happy out in the sun no matter what the temperature is.

Note their shaggy coats. They are the color of ground cinnamon! I suspect there may be a soft down under that long hair and I am looking forward to the spring when they will likely shed their winter coats. We have been slowly getting to know Molly, calling her by name, patting her head and back (over the fence). Hopefully, when the time comes, I will be able to comb her to harvest some of that down. I would like to see if it will make a nice yarn. If so, I will spin it, then knit a nice hat and scarf for Jim.

I say “patting her head and back (over the fence)” because a wise man (my husband, Jim) once told me that “the only bull that will ever kill you is the one you trust”. Molly may not be a bull, but she has a wicked looking set of horns and I intend to be vigilant when I am with her.

Jim was reminded of that piece of wisdom this past fall, during rutting season, when he was in the sheep pasture. While he was about the business of picking up fallen apples, he was rammed rather soundly by my sheep buck. Bozo hit him so hard in the back of his thigh that Jim flew clear into the air and landed on his face and hands. The injury proved over time to be quite painful and very bruised, though it could have been much worse. It is nearly three months since that episode and Jim still feels a little pinch in his knee. As we grow older we must be more careful about trusting the livestock. We are not quite as quick as we once were, nor are we as strong, but we do still enjoy having our menagerie of a dozen hens, a rooster, six sheep, a horse, a donkey, various and sundry cats, a dog and two cattle.

We raise a garden each year and put food by to feed ourselves. With our livestock we are able to add fresh eggs, beef, mutton and chicken to our diets. For a few years after Jim’s illness we had no livestock. I missed them. Now, when I look out the window to see a cow with her calf again, my heart sings. Most of our acreage has been rented out to a neighboring farmer for over ten years, but we have a few acres in pasture near the house. Having these pastures populated with the sheep, cattle, the horse and George makes sense to me. They live on grass that would otherwise have to be mowed. In the dead of winter they feed on ditch hay we bale all summer long. If we didn’t have the chores to do each day I might not leave the house for weeks in the cold winter months! I feel fortunate to have worked hard when we were young to pay for our farms so that now we can have just a few animals to feed our family and ourselves, and give us good reason to rise each day to care for them.

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New! A collection of recipes from the Zahn/Krahn/Colburn/Smith (Jim’s and my mothers and grandmothers) family recipe card box. From Ada’s Apple Cake to Gramma Zahn’s Bread with lots in between, there are 35 recipe cards to add to your recipe box. All recipes in this collection are “from scratch” with old-fashioned “real” ingredients. Available through the catalogue and soon online as well.

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I like to give my grandchildren gifts that require an afternoon with Gramma Chelle. This year for Christmas I found some pretty cool lamps that had to be assembled like puzzles. I invited the three girls for an over-night stay one Saturday shortly after Christmas. They brought their jammies.

We spent two hours building the lamps. They are made of translucent plastic pieces that fit together easily once you understand the concept.

Photo taken in the dark kitchen, puzzle lights on, no flash.

I purchased the lamp kits just before Christmas at a kiosk in West Towne Mall in Madison, WI. If you want to make some of these lamps, go to http://www.luvalamps.com and contact them about where you might find them in your area.

Afterward, we made supper together and watched movies. Grand memories!

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